Mali is planning to increase the size of its army by nearly 50% in a recruitment drive this year in fight against jihadist groups.
Prime minister Boubou Cisse said on Wednesday, the country will hire 10,000 new soldiers in the coming months to allow armed and security forces be much more effective in areas they were not. The move is aimed at uprooting jihadist groups.
He did not say how much the increase would cost or how the arid west African country would pay. It was also not clear how it would lure people into an army whose troops are frequently killed in attacks by Islamists.
Much of central and northern Mali is largely used by groups as a base from which to launch attacks across neighbouring Niger and Burkina Faso.
At least 20 soldiers were killed in a pre-dawn attack on an army camp in the centre of the country on Sunday. France warned on Monday against possible U.S. troop cuts in west Africa, as that will have an impact on logistical support and intelligence gathering.
Zambian Police Arrest 16 Suspects After Chemical Attacks
Zambia police said on Thursday, they have arrested 16 persons suspected of being behind a spate of attacks in which people were sprayed with poisonous substances that have caused some deaths.
The attacks began in December and were initially confined to the mineral-rich copperbelt. They have since spread to the capital Lusaka. Police are still trying to pinpoint the exact number of victims.
Last week, president Edgar Lungu ordered soldiers to join the police in patrolling the streets after the attacks, that have sparked public outrage.
Britain and the United States have issued travel alerts to their citizens following the attacks.
Lesotho PM Misses Court Date Over Wife’s Death
Lesotho’s prime minister Thomas Thabane, who was accused of killing his wife and was due in court for hearing on Friday, did not show up. Police said they were unsure of his whereabouts.
Lipolelo Thabane was shot dead in June 2017 near her home in the capital, Maseru, two days before the minister took office.
Thabane’s current wife, Maesaiah, has also been charged with ordering Lipolelo’s murder. She is currently out on bail.
The prime minister bowed to pressure and announced on Thursday he would step down in July. Both Maesaiah and Thomas Thabane, who married two months after Lipolelo’s killing, have denied any involvement in her death.
Authorities say the prime minister’s whereabouts are unknown. Some even suggest he might have fled the country.
South Sudan President, Rebel Leader Agrees To Form Unity Government
South Sudan’s former rebel leader Riek Machar said he has agreed to form a unity government with president Salva Kiir by Saturday’s deadline, following talks at state house on Thursday.
President Kiir has promised protection for opposition leaders. Machar’s allies had sought assurances for his safety should he formally return to the capital.
Kiir said the main issues which have not been resolved, such as how he and Machar would share the power, and how opposing forces will be unified, are set to be addressed and finalized in coming days.
There are expectations the deal will bring an end to South Sudan’s devastating six-year civil war, which has killed some 400,000 persons.
Before the announcement, it had been unclear if the deadline would be met as key benchmarks of the 2018 peace agreement had not been fulfilled. The deadline had elapsed several times without an agreement between the two sides.
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